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2014 Second 100: Why Dickey's Barbecue Pit is the No. 4 fastest-growing chain

2014 Second 100: Why Dickey's Barbecue Pit is the No. 4 fastest-growing chain

This is part of Nation’s Restaurant News’ annual Second 100 report, a proprietary census ranking restaurant brands Nos. 101-200 by U.S. systemwide sales and other data. This special report focuses on a smaller, more growth-oriented universe than the Top 100 report. 

Although Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s growth slowed in the most recent year, the 383-unit limited service chain’s sales still jumped by 30.5 percent, making it the fifth fastest growing chain in the Second 100 census. Its $338 million in systemwide domestic sales moved it up the line, from No. 130 to No. 109.

That growth in sales was aided by the addition of a net 80 locations in the latest year, an increase of 26.4 percent, but sales per unit also grew by an estimated 2.4 percent. The growth in unit count and increase in sales per unit make it the most dynamic barbecue chain in the country.

2014 Second 100 top 10 growth chains at a glance >>

Keys to Growth:

Established culture prior to growth. Founded in 1941, Dickey’s didn’t start franchising until 1995, and it started slowly. It didn’t kick its growth into high gear until 2011, when it opened 66 restaurants, bringing its total to 203.

Embraces modern technology. The chain’s website,, is optimized for use with mobile devices, and the chain spent a year and a half rolling out a mobile ordering system that’s available at more than 80 percent of its locations. The chain has found that mobile ordering has caused average checks to go up.

Menu that’s both focused and varied. The chain’s signature items are smoked brisket and pulled pork, both served with a sweet tomato paste-based sauce that also accompanies its Virginia-style ham, marinated chicken breast, turkey breast, Polish sausage, spicy Cheddar sausage and pork ribs. Dickey’s also offers 10 vegetables, three kinds of bread and two desserts, as well as free ice cream.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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